“Sustained, discretionary effort. That’s what we are after,” I said. “The training period requires more attention and focus from the manager. But as time passes and new behaviors become competent skills, the reinforcement changes.
“In the beginning, the manager has to overcome push-back and fear of failure. But, as the new behavior turns to competence, the issues change.”
“So, what does the manager do differently?” asked Travis.
“Lots of things, but let’s start with the easy stuff. In the beginning, the manager may reinforce good old fashioned effort. But as time goes by and the effort becomes accomplished, the manager changes to reinforce a specific sequence. As the specific sequence becomes accomplished, the manager may reinforce speed or efficiency.
“Let’s go back to our example of the video game. Modern game designers structure training sequences into the lower levels of the game. Leveling up requires certain fundamental skills be demonstrated. Once accomplished, the player is introduced to more complex scenarios where mastery of the fundamentals must already exist. Each level becomes increasingly complex. The schedules of reinforcement change, but the principle remains the same. What gets reinforced gets repeated.”